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Modern Chivalry — a Manifesto.

we read in one of the noblest of English poems that “a gentle knight came pricking o'er the plain ;” but we do not read, in whatever other way he made an ass of himself, that he published three close columns of nonsense in any newspaper of the period. He dabbled in blood, and not in ink; he brandished a sword, and not a goose-quill; he murdered infidels, and not his vernacular; he was invincible in respect of dragons, but he recoiled from the perils of authorship; and as he was much more expert at riding than reading, he never seems to have thought it necessary to quote, by way of justification, from any of Doctor Caleb Cushing's Cyclopedias whenever he slaughtered Paynims and ravished their wives. Our modern chevaliers are vastly more accomplished; and whatever prowess they may hereafter exhibit upon the gory field, it must be admitted that they make war by proclamation with irresistible, or perhaps we may say with irrefragable vigor.

We do not remember in the history of Chivalry anything like “An Open Letter to the Knights of the Golden Circle,” which has just been printed in The [111] Richmond Whig, by Sir George Bickley, President of the American Legion and K. G. C. Since Sir Waiter Raleigh, there has been no fillibuster so accomplisted as Knight George. In urging his men-at-arms to rush to the rendezvous, he strengthens his appeal by quoting from history in the most miscellaneous manner, and by using terms the most recondite and scientific. He speaks of the days of Nimrod, Ashur, Fohi, Mizraim, Athotes, Memnon, Solomon, Hiram, Uleg-Beg, Gengis Khan and Psammeticus, as if they were only of yesterday, or the day before. He makes an off-hand allusion to Pyramids and Sphynxes with an ease with is perfectly tremendous. We do not know any Doctor of Divinity who has exhibited such perfect familiarity with the intentions of the Almighty. He uses all the hard philosophical terms with as much ease as if he had been born under the Portico, swaddled in the Lyceum, educated in a German University, and subsequently adopted and nurtured in sesquipedality by Jeremy Bentham. He evidently means to invade Mexico according to all the laws of Logic and Mental Philosophy. Thus we are told that Asia and Africa “have long since passed from fetichism to analyticism, and finally to syntheticism” --in consequence of which interesting transmogrification the Knights of the Golden Circle are invited to meet, on the 15th of September proximo, on the beautiful banks of the Rio Nueces. All difficulties are to vanish before “the energetic analyses of the Americans;” and in the opinion of Sir George Bickley, K. G. C., the entire Mexican army will fly [112] like cravens from the very first round of “pure syntheticisms” to which he proposes to subject it; nor do we blame him if, as he admits, at such a prospect, “his heart swells.” We should think it would. We do not wonder, when thus he meditates the easy glories of charge, with Webster in one hand and Worcester in the other, that he also declares that unless his gallant knights do their duty, “future ages may well reprobate our dereliction.” Our own opinion is that future ages will by no means let them off so easily; and will be satisfied with nothing less than penalties only to be expressed in words of ten syllables.

Sir George touches upon one exceedingly interesting point. All adventurers who leave the scenes of their nativity to grapple with fortune in foreign lands have a pet grievance. Aeneas was fairly smoked out of house and home, or the world would have had no Rome. Sir George Bickley, K. G. C., is also mounted upon his injuries. As “a Christian,” as “a consistent man,” as “an energetic Anglo-American,” he is much displeased with the difficulty of enforcing the Fugitive Slave Law in Boston. “The conflicts between the State and Federal authorities” have rasped the more delicate parts of his nature. Although not a medical man, he volunteers the opinion that, “as a nation we have been poisoned.” The Republican party has “grown to colossal proportions.” The F. S. L. cannot be executed — not Botts, nor Yancey, nor Wise could, as President, execute it. The crimes of the North are manifold. It is guilty of a population of twenty millions, while the South has but [113] twelve. In respect of land, it is equally reprehensible--seventy-five acres to a man, while the South has but forty-five. “Be we men,” Sir George would have said, if he had thought of it; “Be we men and suffer this dishonor?” Alas the poor South, oppressed by all the rules of arithmetic the victim of a pitiless numeration — what can she do better than to throw herself for safety and for succor into the amorous arms of Sir George Bickley, K. G. C., President of the American Legion? He is the Moses for her money. He will show her the green pastures and the still waters — a Canaan of coffee, of corn and of cotton; a Paradise of tea and tobacco, of sugar and rice — where there will be “work for all,” and more especially for “niggers” --where there will be “free religion,” (Doctors of Divinity growing as we are told, spontaneously in the poorest soil)--where there will be “free education” --two Universities, we suppose, in every shire-town, each with a full corps of presidents, stewards, tutors, bell-ringers, bed-makers and professors of Greek.

Then, too, there is unhappy Mexico — the heart of Sir George is undergoing a horrible hemorrhage on her account; and the ears of Sir George are filled with her cries for “help.” He proposes, his Knights of the Golden Circle assisting, to give her “a rank among nations” --to rescue her from “the brigand and barbarous brutes who now burn, pillage, murder and destroy her--” and a very handsome thing it is in him to offer to do it. Therefore, let Bickley's Braves all be “on the south bank of the Rio Nueces by [114] the 15th of September--there to organize and await the action of our friends in Mexico.” There will be a pleasant march — there will be just fighting enough to sustain the interest of the expedition — and then for a revel in the Halls of Montezuma, with no end of liquor and ladies! We can see Sir George now, in our mind's eye, with a monopoly of two señoritas and a private bottle of aguardiente, surrounded by the chiefs of his army, and martially and melodiously whistling Yankee Doodle. If this will not give Mexico “rank among nations,” we do not know what will. What the rank will be we leave the reader to determine.

But Sir George, like a prudent commander, directs his Golden Knights not to come to the south bank of the Rio Nueces empty-handed. They are requested to bring with them “wagons, mules, oxen, horses, cattle spades and blankets.” Nothing is said of “two towels and a spoon.” Perhaps the last is at least included under the general head of “instruments,” which the knights are also requested to provide. But we are afraid that the word has no such pacific signification. “Instruments,” we fear, mean revolvers and rifles, bayonets and blunderbusses and bowie-knives, powder-flasks and bullets. If not, why does Sir George inform us that in good time his “emigrants” will beat the sword and the rife, the cannon and the lance, into agricultural implements? This will, after peace, be, of course, the proper and poetical thing to do; but how can it be done without, if we may say so, the raw material? How can you make a cannon into [115] “an agricultural implement,” if you have no cannon to begin with? We defy Sir George Bickley, K. G. C., to do it.

It must not be supposed that any body who pleases can join this gallant “emigration.” In the first place, every knight must bring to the Rio Nueces not less than “twenty dollars” in hard cash. O discouraging regulation! A man may be bold — a man may be brave — but unless he can by begging, borrowing or stealing raise twenty dollars, his room will be better than his company on the banks of that shining river. But we have still more discouraging intelligence. Sir George gives timely notice that none but respectable men can march under his colors. He will have no “rowdies.” We are not sure that he will not confine his enlistment to church-members in good standing. Those gallant men, therefore, in this city and elsewhere, who propose to consecrate themselves to this knightly work, will see the necessity of instantly commencing their purgation, and of looking about to see which of their friends has twenty dollars in cash to spare. For cash, after all, is what Sir George will stand most in need of. To slaveholders he makes a most piteous appeal, calling upon them in the name of all that is good and great to draw their pocketbooks instantly, and to send to Col. N. J. Scott, of Auburn, Ala., the neat sum of one million five hundred thousand dollars. We are afraid that it is just possible that Col. Scott will be obliged to wait awhile for that money; and our advice to Sir George, if he really desires to be the Alexander of Mexico, is to [116] courageously make up his mind to defray all the expenses out of his private resources, which are undoubtedly unlimited.

We beg leave, most respectfully, to call the attention of our friend, Mr. Buchanan, to this Proclamation. It may divert his mind from a too constant contemplation of his recent misfortunes; and he may pleasantly employ himself during the brief remainder of his official existence, either in assisting or arresting this expedition — it really makes no difference which. Should he determine to try a new sensation, and for once insist upon a rigid execution of the laws, we beseech him not to begin with a Proclamation, for in that particular line of warfare he cannot for a moment compete with Sir George Bickley, K. G. C.

July 26, 1860.

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